Oz, McCormick, Sands will skip GOP U.S. Senate debate | Monday Morning Coffee

The TV physician, fresh off kissing his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, says he has a scheduling conflict

February 21, 2022 7:05 am

GOP U.S. Senate hopefuls David McCormick (L) and Mehmet Oz (R)(Capital-Star photo collage).

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Three of the most well-know candidates in the crowded field of aspirants seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate won’t be on the stage at Villanova University this evening for the first debate of the spring primary season.

Fresh off kissing his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, TV physician Mehmet Oz says a previously scheduled commitment will keep him from attending the debate at Villanova University, the debate’s organizers said in a logistic memo shared with the media last week.

Oz’s absence prompted ex-hedge fund manager David McCormick, who was scheduled to participate, to announce that he’d be taking a pass on the 90-minute session at the John & Joan Mullen Center’s Topper Theater, The Hill, a publication that covers Congress, reported.

“Dave is looking forward to debating. Hopefully Mehmet will confirm a day and time soon,” McCormick’s campaign spokesperson, Jess Szymanski, told The Hill.

Carla Sands, a former Trump administration diplomat, who was still making up her mind last week, also will not be attending, GOP strategist Chris Nicholas, of Harrisburg, who’s organizing the debate, told the Capital-Star on Sunday afternoon.

That leaves Montgomery County real estate developer Jeff Bartos, conservative influencer Kathy Barnette, businessman Everett Stern, and attorney George Bochetto, as the confirmed candidates.

Oz participated in a candidates’ forum during the state Republican Party’s winter meeting earlier this month, according to The Hill.

McCormickwho most recently lived in Connecticut, and Ozwho has ties to New Jersey, have faced accusations of carpet-bagging since entering the GOP field. Both candidates, who are hugely wealthy, are expected to spend huge sums of their own cash on their respective campaigns.

But despite his wealth, Oz recently was found to be using pre-checked boxes on campaign fundraising solicitations. That would have committed donors to ongoing contributions unless they actively opted-out, the Capital-Star previously reported.

Jeff Bartos in his campaign-opening ad. (Bartos campaign)

Bartos, who’s been positioning himself as the true son of Pennsylvania in a blizzard of campaign advertisements, took a whack at his two competitors for dropping out.

“Perhaps if this debate was held in Connecticut or New Jersey, Dave McCormick and Mehmet Oz would be inclined to attend and defend their records,” Bartos told The Hill. “I’m looking forward to Monday’s debate, and unlike my out-of-state opponents, I will always show up for Pennsylvanians.”

The debate is jointly sponsored by the conservative news site, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, LV Strong, and the Keystone Free Enterprise Fund. Former state Rep. Becky Corbin is the lead moderator.

According to its organizers, the candidates will face questions across a range of topics, including filibuster reform, defense and foreign policy issues, the economy, and energy and infrastructure. The debate, which starts at 7 p.m. will be streamed and aired live by the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.